Meghalaya groups demand Shanmuganathan’s probe, prosecution

Shillong, Jan 27 (IANS) On a day President Pranab Mukherjee accepted Meghalaya Governor V. Shanmuganathan’s resignation, two civil society groups in the north-eastern state on Friday demanded an inquiry into Shanmuganathan’s “inappropriate behaviour” and his prosecution.

The groups also demanded an inquiry against the former Governor’s Secretary even as official sources said two Public Relations Officers and a Private Secretary of Shanmuganathan have been sacked.

In the meantime, the Meghalaya State Commission for Women has sent a letter to the National Commission for Women (NCW) about the allegations against the 68-year-old Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh veteran from Tamil Nadu who was the state Governor.

Shanmuganathan, who held the additional charge of Arunachal Pradesh also, tendered his resignation on Thursday to “ensure a free and impartial probe into the charges against me”.

Civil society groups — the Civil Society Women’s Organisation and Thma U Rangli, a progressive political outfit of Meghalaya — demanded the inquiry against Shanmuganathan, and staged a protest in front of Raj Bhavan gate here on Thursday.

“The government should institute an inquiry. It should not be the case that he has resigned and the matter ends there. Now that he’s no longer the Governor, we don’t need prior sanction from the President,” TUR leader Angela Rangad said.

“A quick, speedy and decisive inquiry leading to prosecution should be made so that it sends out a strong message that nobody occupying any high office in India can get away with abuse of power,” she said.

“We have informed the NCW. We are seeking legal advice since the alleged victim is yet to file a complaint against him. The state government could set up a fact-finding committee to probe charges against Shanmuganathan,” State Commission for Women chief Theilin Phanbuh told journalists.

Chief Secretary K.S. Kropha on Friday said the state government is consulting legal experts on how to go about regarding the alleged “inappropriate behaviour” of the now former Governor.

“The state police have sought legal opinion. The matter is being examined since there is no FIR by the woman who alleged sexual harassment,” Kropha told IANS.

On Wednesday, nearly 100 Raj Bhavan employees in Shillong sent a signed five-page letter to the Prime Minister’s Office and Rashtrapati Bhavan to demand the recall of the Governor for what they alleged was “turning Raj Bhavan into a Young Ladies Club”.

From the time Shanmuganathan took office on May 12, 2015, the employees alleged, they were going through “severe humiliation, mental stress and torture”.

Meanwhile, the former Governor’s Secretary H.M. Shangpliang told IANS that the Raj Bhavan Secretariat had terminated the service of Shanmuganathan’s Public Relation Officers Chinmoyee Deka and Emdorimi Thangkhiew, Private Secretary Saurabh Pandey and his personal cook Bhanumati.

Assam Governor Banwarilal Purohit, who has been given additional charge of Meghalaya, will be sworn in as the state Governor on Saturday.